A few weekends ago, the Senator and I woke up at dark thirty and headed North to the Tallgrass Prairie in Osage County for a little adventure. About this time each year, the Nature Conservancy rounds up the “Bison” who live on the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve to get an accurate head count, provide them with vaccinations and tag any newborns who were born during the year. In order to keep the numbers manageable for the land, some are then sold at auction (think bison burgers) and others donated to Native American tribes up North who also herd these animals on their land. The fate of each individual bison is based on their sex and age when they are rounded up annually and their tag is scanned as they go through the chute.
It was a very high tech operation, but it’s not a very pleasant process to watch. And, they give you that disclaimer right up front! The first bison I watched come through the chute had lost his horn and there was a lot of blood. I don’t have a picture of that.
If you noticed I swapped out the word buffalo for bison there’s a reason for that! The animals who roam the great plains of North America are technically called “Bison,” while the term “buffalo” refers to the Water Buffalo found in Southeast Asia. I’m not sure I knew that distinction, but then, this road trip was already a learning adventure! The folks at the Nature Conservancy shared so much information with us about the Tallgrass Prairie and their efforts to restore the land and its inhabitants back to the original factory conditions, it felt like we earned college credit.
It was fascinating to watch the process. It was also windy and cold up on the prairie but not for the bison. They are equipped with the thickest of coats.
A huge shout out to the folks at the Nature Conservancy for sharing their admirable work with the public and to my dad, for arranging our educational field trip. Ending the day in Pawhuska truly iced the cake. Especially when you befriend a cute dog at the local watering hole.
If you’re looking for a fun activity in northern Oklahoma, not far from the Pioneer Woman’s Mercantile and Pawhuska, take a drive through the tall grass prairie where you might catch a glimpse of the American Bison who reside there.